Overcoming obstacles with Optimism

Posts tagged ‘stroke symptoms’

World Stroke Day 2014

Today is World Stroke Day. On this day, we hope the voice of stroke education will grow even louder. Strokes can attack any person without notice. Everyone needs to be aware of the statistics of a stroke and how to respond if we suspect someone is having one. Here are some facts from The Internet Stroke Center which offers a wealth of information:


U.S. Statistics

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. More than 140,000 people die each year from stroke in the United States.
Stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.
Each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke. About 600,000 of these are first attacks, and 185,000 are recurrent attacks.
Nearly three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65. The risk of having a stroke more than doubles each decade after the age of 55.
Strokes can and do occur at ANY age. Nearly one fourth of strokes occur in people under the age of 65.
Stroke death rates are higher for African-Americans than for whites, even at younger ages.
On average, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
Stroke accounted for about one of every 17 deaths in the United States in 2006. Stroke mortality for 2005 was 137,000.
From 1995–2005, the stroke death rate fell ~30 percent and the actual number of stroke deaths declined ~14 percent.
The risk of ischemic stroke in current smokers is about double that of nonsmokers after adjustment for other risk factors.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an independent risk factor for stroke, increasing risk about five-fold.
High blood pressure is the most important risk factor for stroke.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Canadian Statistics

In 2000, stroke accounted for 7% of all deaths – 15,409 Canadians.
Every seven minutes, a Canadian dies of heart disease or stroke.
Stroke was the second largest contributor to hospital care costs among cardiovascular diseases (2000-2001).
Eighty percent of Canadians have at least one of the risk factors for heart and/or cerebrovascular disease: daily smoking, physical inactivity, being overweight, self-reported high blood pressure, or diabetes.
Between 1969 and 1999, death rates for cerebrovascular disease decreased by 62%.

Learn more about stroke in Canada from The Growing Burden of Heart Disease and Stroke in Canada 2003, a report by the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, the Canadian Cardiovascular Society, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.


Worldwide Statistics

According to the World Health Organization, 15 million people suffer stroke worldwide each year. Of these, 5 million die and another 5 million are permanently disabled.
High blood pressure contributes to more than 12.7 million strokes worldwide.
Europe averages approximately 650,000 stroke deaths each year.
In developed countries, the incidence of stroke is declining, largely due to efforts to lower blood pressure and reduce smoking. However, the overall rate of stroke remains high due to the aging of the population.

Source: World Health Report – 2002, from the World Health Organization.

The American Heart & Stroke Association has a great way to learn and recognize the signs of a stroke.
If you suspect someone is having a stroke, it is important to act F.A.S.T.

F Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

A Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Guest Post- Strokes: How to Recognize Them, and What to Do

Strokes:  How to Recognize Them, and What to Do

–Philip J Reed, on behalf of Valley Hospital Medical Center

Strokes are serious, and their impact is very real.  Approximately 700,000 Americans experience a stroke first-hand every year. Some die from that stroke, but, of course, others live and recover. According to the American Stroke Association, strokes are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., taking a life every 3.1 minutes.

That’s a significant frequency, and that’s why it’s important that people are educated.  The faster (and more correctly) that a stroke is recognized and responded to, the more likely the victim will recover.

That’s why we are providing this article today.  We want you to understand, to be prepared, and to have the most effective preventative agent on your side:  knowledge.

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when there is an interruption in the flow of blood to the cells in the brain.  Without the oxygen supplied by the blood, those brain cells die.

There are two kinds of strokes, determined by the reason blood flow to the brain was interrupted.  The first type is an ischemic stroke, which is the most common.  Ischemic strokes are caused by arterial blockage, which restricts blood blow to the brain.  Ischemic stokes account for approximately 80% of all strokes annually.

The less common type is a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs due to the rupture of an artery, either outside the brain or at the base of the brain.  Hemorrhagic strokes account for approximately 20% of strokes.

Symptoms of a Stroke

Stroke symptoms are unfortunately categorized by the suddenness of their onset and their severity. These symptoms generally do not build gradually, and may occur in quick succession.

Symptoms of a stroke may include:

• Confusion
• Severe dizziness
• Difficulty understanding others
• Difficulty speaking
• Loss of coordination or balance
• Severe weakness or numbness in arms or legs (one or both sides)
• Numbness in the face
• Drooling
• Difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes
• Severe headache of unknown cause
• Difficulty breathing or swallowing
• Uneven pupil dilation

Somebody suffering from a stroke is likely to display one or more of the signs of a stroke, but even one symptom may be indication enough.  Be sure to take any warning signs seriously.

Identifying a Stroke in Others

Think FAST:

FACE – Does their face slack or droop on one side, making it look off-balance?

ARMS – Do they have difficulty holding or raising their arms together, straight in front of them?

SPEECH – Is the person’s speech unrecognizable or severely slurred?

TIME – How much time had passed since you noticed the symptoms?  Be sure to tell medical personnel.

What to Do

Call 9-1-1 immediately, and don’t leave the person. You should not try to take the person to the hospital yourself. Help the person sit down so they will not fall if they lose consciousness. If the person’s condition worsens while you are on the phone with emergency personnel, they will be able to talk you through the process of helping the victim until paramedics arrive.

Noting the time of the onset of stroke symptoms is essential. The longer the blood is prevented from flowing to the brain, the more damage can occur to the brain. Receiving adequate treatment within an hour of the onset of stroke can prevent disability in most cases. The sooner the stroke victim can receive treatment, the better the chances of recovery.

Strokes are frightening, both for the person having the stroke and the bystanders who notice it. But, with FAST thinking and quick treatment at a primary stroke center, people who suffer from a stroke have a chance to make a full recovery.

A View of My World

Thank you to http://www.lighthouse.org/ for granting my use of your picture.

This illustration, provided by lighthouse.org, is an example of what someone sees when they have right homonymous hemianopia.  I have left homonymous hemianopia.  This picture is very close to the view from my world as I look out onto a busy street.  As a result of my stroke, the left half of my sight is always completely black.  I have no ability to see the left half of the visual fields from either my right or left eye.  I am lucky the remaining eyesight, straight forward and to the right, have remained normal.

Another way to explain homonymous hemianopia is by using the example of an analog clock.  When I look straight at its center, I will see the 2 from the twelve on top.  The 1 from that twelve is completely black as are 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11.  I am able to clearly see the other 1, the 2, 3, 4, 5 and part of the 6.  If I look directly at someone’s nose, I can see their nose and the left half of their face.  If I look at their left ear, the face will disappear into darkness.  Please understand my missing eyesight is not what causes prosopagnosia.  Rather, that stems from a different area in the brain.  Even if I regained my ability to have a complete, unhampered view of the world, I would not be able to remember a face again.

Having complete or homonymous hemianopia is different from losing sight from one eye in that the sight remaining from the good eye still allows for some peripheral capability.  The unaffected eye will normally have the complete ability to see side views to assist with deficits created by the affected eye.   Lacking peripheral sight on one side from both eyes can be extremely challenging.

So how does this lack of sight alter my daily living?  I walk into walls now I do not notice.  I have found it more difficult to determine if someone is talking to me because it is more challenging to see where their eyes are directed.  Shaving my legs becomes more difficult when half of the leg disappears. Vacuuming is an unending chore: I think I have cleaned the entire room only to turn my head and realize there was a large section I did not see therefore clean.  Cooking is also negatively affected.  This is most noticed when I am using a knife.  When my left hand holds a vegetable, my right hand will cut.  While looking at my right hand and where the knife is coming down, I will not be able to see my left fingers.  It becomes dangerously easy to cut myself.  Also, there is a major decrease in depth perception especially as night falls.  Reading has also taken on unexpected challenges.  When reading articles in magazines, I often am confused following the story.  I easily miss the columns on the left.

Yes, when missing eyesight, a whole new array of challenges present themselves.  Learning to compensate was one of the great gifts created when the majority of my eyesight was missing when I awoke after experiencing my stroke.  At first, most of my world was black.  It was a very gradual process to regain the sight which I now have.  When possibilities of what I could regain was first discussed with my physicians, we did not know what would be recovered.  I had doubts I would ever see better.  Essentially I could have been blind for the rest of my life and never have seen my daughters’ faces again.  By the time I could see fifty percent from each eye, I was extremely relieved.  I went from waking up to a dark room to being able to notice small details in faces and photos.  I had the ability to get around without any added assistance.  With the sight I now have, I was able to reclaim an independent life.

I hope you have noticed nowhere in this post is the word vision used when explaining what I have lost.  There is a definite difference between how these two words can be defined.  Initially, I lost a lot of my eyesight.  Currently, I still have a substantial portion of my eyesight missing.  I would love to no longer walk into walls or hit my head on open cabinet doors.  A large amount of my sight is gone and will probably, realistically, never return.  Yet, I have not lost my vision.  If anything, at the time my sight disappeared, my vision for life became even clearer.  I carry hope and happiness daily in every aspect of my life.  I have a vision to share this hope with everyone I can get my message to as I speak of being a young stroke patient, living with epilepsy and prosopagnosia.  I no longer have sight, but I am filled with a tremendously powerful vision!

2011 Neuro Film Festival

This video was made based on one of my first posts, https://findingstrengthtostandagain.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/psst-i-have-a-secret-go-ahead-read-it/

It is now a submission in the 2011 Neuro Film Festival from the American Academy of Neurology Foundation.  This film festival is designed to raise awareness of the many neurological conditions that effect men and women of all races and all ages.

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